On today’s show we are talking about a growing trend in retirement or pre-retirement living. A number of people are selling the family homestead and opting for life on the high seas. I’m not talking the billionaire mega-yachts. I’m also not talking about slumming it on a 25 foot wooden boat either. There is a large spectrum of options in the middle and I personally know of many people who have made this lifestyle choice.
In some cases, they maintain a land based option but often as a second vacation home. One story is of a friend named Ian, a former executive with the Nielsen Group of Companies. These are the folks who are responsible for the Nielsen TV ratings and all kinds of other statistics that businesses have come to rely upon. Ian retired sooner than most. He was in his mid fifties, a little unsure about whether he had enough saved up to last the next 40 years.
He sold his home in New Jersey about 5 years ago and bought a 45 foot yacht. He and his wife spend the winter months in the Bahamas, sailing from island to island.
When it’s too hot in the South, the boat gets pulled out of the water in Florida and spends the summer in a cradle. From there, it’s off to another vacation home in the Azores. This vacation property was purchased for about $45,000 dollars and is a small piece of paradise overlooking the other islands and the Atlantic. A large expat community means that finding English speakers on this Portuguese island is not difficult at all.
Modern navigation and communication equipment has come down in price in recent years. The latest systems use a collision avoidance system similar to what aircraft use in the skies. It’s now possible to get real time weather updates on your electronic charts. These systems are so much more sophisticated and have increase boating safety dramatically.
My wife and I are routinely spending time aboard our boat in Europe. Marina fees average about $500 per month, and it’s an extremely affordable way to keep a home base. Daily rates can run anywhere from $40 a day to $300 a day depending on the size of your vessel. We feel extremely secure on board everywhere we go.
Living on board means careful planning. Things like getting a haircut, or a large laundry requires more time than at home on land. We have a washing machine for clothing on board, but it lacks the capacity and features of the land based counterpart.
On those days when we are not connected to shore power, we have a large solar panel that keeps the batteries topped up. Our largest electricity draw is refrigeration, and we can go several days on battery power alone without having to run the engine to charge the batteries.
One of the latest trends in boats for retirement is the popularity of catamarans. The two hull vessels are very wide and stable. They don’t roll in an anchorage. The downside is that they are a bit more expensive to purchase. They are also more expensive to own since they occupy the same space as two boats in a marina, the marina’s charge double the price of a monohull boat. In some cases, finding space in a marina can be more difficult because not only do you need two spaces, you need two spaces side by side which is more difficult to find. So your operating costs can be much higher.
Some areas are experiencing a significant increase in permanent live-aboard residents. One of the larger marinas we recently visited in Europe has over 4,000 boats. I can tell you from walking the docks, you can tell which boats have live-aboard crew. If there is a small herb garden of basil and mint, chances are high that the owners live aboard.